Peru is a country in South America, located on the western side of that continent, encompassing a part of the Andes mountain belt that runs the length of South America, and facing the South Pacific Ocean. Peru shares its borders with Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east, and Chile to the south. What makes this country stand out among all the other countries in the world are its unsurpassed cultural diversity and history. The archaeological heritage of pre-Columbian cultures and the nexus of the ancient Inca’s empire attract the true adventure lovers to this country.
Peru’s history will leave you in awe as will its colonial architecture and the gorgeous landscapes that vary from region to region. Peru is also brimming with wildlife and what kind of wildlife it is! It has 84 of the earth’s 104 known life zones, which makes this country a home to such rare creatures as pink dolphins, primates, jaguars, giant river otters and as many as 4,000 types of butterflies.
Warnings & Dangers in Peru
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Overall, Peru is somewhat safe to visit, though it has many dangers and is ridden with crime. You should be aware that tourist hotspots and public transportation are places where most thefts and pickpocketing occur, and that violent crime exists on the streets, too.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Transportation mostly safe and reliable but you should be very careful on public transport and buses as you might end up being robbed. Always call a reliable taxi instead of hailing one on the streets.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH
Pickpockets are a serious concern in Peru, as is the violent crime and you should exercise caution and keep your money and your valuables elsewhere, like in hidden pockets of your clothes and never ever keep all of your money in the same place.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
When it comes to natural disasters, there is a risk of landslides and flooding. This usually happens during heavy rains and often causes public transportation to suddenly stop. Peru also has some volcanic activities, and the volcanoes Ubinas and Sabancaya have been known to erupt: recently, it has happened in 2016.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
There is also the issue of violent crime, muggings, "express kidnappings" where people are taken and driven from one ATM to another until they withdraw all their money from their account. Then there are "struggle muggings" in Cusco, Arequipa and Lima during which tourists are put in a choke hold from behind and stolen from while unconscious. Be very, very careful when in Peru, avoid poorly lit and deserted areas and remain vigilant everywhere else.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
The risks of terrorist attacks in Peru are low, but since there's a chance that areas in the Southern Highlands such as San Martin, Huanuco, Pasco, Junin, Ucayali, Huancavelica, Ayacucho and Apurimac might shelter members of the Shining Path terrorist group, attacks shouldn't be ruled out. It is important that you remain vigilant at all times.
SCAMS RISK : HIGH
There is a high risk of getting scammed in Peru. Be wary of people lurking around ATMs or anyone trying to distract you. Taxi drivers might try to trick you into paying more, giving you wrongful information about the price of the ride.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Many women have traveled to Peru alone and had nothing but great time. However, this country isn't the safest in terms of females traveling solo since there have been reports of women being attacked or shamed, so be careful, especially at night and apply precaution measures at all times and avoid dark and empty streets and locations.
So... How Safe Is Peru Really?
Even though it has largely improved, crime in Peru is a serious issue which makes Peru relatively unsafe. The greatest problem in this country is poverty, and where there’s poverty, there’s also petty theft. The main tactic of pikcpockets is making up various ways to distract tourists, like an old woman spilling something on you, falling in front of you, or dropping something in front of your feet. Then someone else cuts your bag open with a razor, or simply swoop and grab your entire bag and you’re left penniless.
Then there’s the issue of “express kidnappings” during which tourists are held hostage and driven around the city from one ATM to another, until they withdraw all their money. Sometimes they are released quickly and sometimes they’re held captive until the account is positively emptied.
But petty crime is not the only thing to fear in Peru. The Sacsayhuaman ruins overlooking Cusco are notorious for muggings. If you plan on visiting them during sunset or sunrise because of the gorgeous view they offer, keep in mind that this is when the local banditos operate here. Always make sure you’re in a group when visiting these ruins.
- Visas - Most countries do not need a visa in order to enter Peru. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months past your date of departure from Peru. Keep in mind that your stamp may be for 30 days, though the real limit is for 180. In this case, just explain to the immigration officials that you need more than 30 days and show them your return ticket. You may even get a so-called Tarjeta Andina de Migración, which you will have to return upon your exit from Peru. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
- Currency - Sol is the official currency in Peru, but many places accept US dollars. ATMs are available in nearly every city and town in Peru, as well as major establishments. You are advised to exchange money in exchange offices as they often give a slightly better rate than banks.
- Weather - Due to Peru's diverse geography the weather varies from region to region. When it's warm on the coast, it can be extremely cold in the mountains while the weather can be completely different in the jungle areas. In return, winter lasts from June to September on the coastal regions, during which time the mountainous areas are sunny and warm, though still cold at night. This is, for the most part, the best time to visit most regions.
- Airports - Jorge Chávez International Airport is Peru's main international and domestic airport. It is located in Callao, 11 km from Lima, Peru's capital.
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we advise getting travel insurance when traveling to Peru, because it would cover not only medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.